Specialty Food Magazine

Spring 2019

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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chasing power to back up those desires: 60 percent of Baby Boomers purchase specialty foods, according to the SFA's "State of the Specialty Food Industry 2018," with foodservice accounting for 21.6 percent of overall sales. Breaking the Mold " The opportunity for specialty food producers in this market seg- ment is wide open," says Todd Lindsay, director of business develop- ment for Glendale Senior Dining in New Hampshire, which partners with 30 facilities that range from independent living to critical care. A recent survey from Culinary Visions of 500 senior consumers older than 55, shows that seniors want food cooked to order, which is where foodservice-size specialty foods can make an operation run smoothly and guarantee consistent, delicious results. And while healthy eating is important to them, Bitter confirms, "they're not will- ing to trade off taste for it." "There's no question that aging Baby Boomers have different expectations than generations out in front of them," says Lindsay. "They're educated, wealthy, and well-traveled. They want vegan, vegetarian, organic, sushi, and power bowls, branded items, and a community that offers retail operations. They want it all." Bitter notices a notable shift in the new 50+ communities. "These country club amenity communities used to be surrounded by golf courses, but builders find people don't want that anymore. So, they asked, 'what else?'" In lieu of golf, Trilogy at The Vineyards in Brentwood, Calif., offers a demo kitchen, a restaurant, food delivery, and outdoor dining. "They even have Abbey's Gourmet Studio for special occasions from two to 40 people with culinary- centric experiences like cocktail parties or winemaker dinners," notes Bitter. "It used to be that senior living would plan a calendar and you went if the event interested you. Now you provide a beautiful space and the residents determine what they want to do, like a weekly cooking club or wine club." For traditional senior living, Bitter sees the challenge as, "how do you offer choice?" Lindsay finds that residents love seeing local products. Paula Lambert of The Mozzarella Company, maker of award-winning cheeses, says, "We sell to some of these types of facilities, which are becoming more prevalent in Dallas," and she's noticed that "some well-trained chefs are now working in them rather than restaurants because as the chefs and their families are aging, the chefs like more of the 9-to-5 lifestyle than the hectic late hours of restaurants." In the same way they sourced ingredients for their restaurant work, they're sourcing high-quality food to meet the needs of aging Boomers. But shifting the industry is anything but straightforward. "What works in one place will not work in another," notes Lindsay. Glendale tailors its offerings to what the residents in each facility like. If residents want local, quality coffee, Lindsay searches far and wide for vendors of distinction. "Our approach is the opposite of the rest of the industry. They want to see how much they can get on one truck from one vendor. And that's convenient, but not what today's residents are looking for." For example, they have fresh fish delivered from Portsmouth to its other New Hampshire locations. "If you or I were sitting at a table in Laconia and wanted fresh diver scallops from Portsmouth, we could have that," he says. "When we buy perishable, we try to keep it from a 100-mile radius. Because of seasonality, that makes it hard, but we're not going to buy apples from Washington state because we have deli- cious apples grown in New England," he adds. Lindsay is on mark, as a recent Culinary Visions survey showed that 72 percent of seniors would like their senior living communities to incorporate local produce in their dining menus. "You want a program where you can attract Baby Boomers to these communities and satisfy those that have been there for 25 years already. We get to push the envelope," Lindsay observes. Glendale is opening its first all-day dining facility in the first quarter of this year. "It will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Residents can go in anytime and have anything they want," he says. Retail operations satisfy many needs. "We're keeping up with the same level of retailer you'll find on the street, so residents won't feel the difference from walking into a Starbucks," he adds, noting this is particularly accomplished by stocking the same quality and variety of branded items. Trained Chefs Up the Ante Having a chef on-premise—who is visible and accessible—can be another important aspect of senior community life because chefs are trusted. "A chef who works in an office preparing menus is far less likely to have an impact than one who is visible to residents in the dining room and able to talk knowledgeably about the ingredients and the sourcing of particular foods," Olson asserts. The Senior Food and Lifestyles Study, which is Culinary Visions' latest study, found that "new" seniors—those who are not When choosing a senior community, Baby Boomers expect more, especially when it comes to food. They want all-day dining, restaurant- style menus, retail cafes, local sourcing, fresh produce, fully stocked pantries with cereal and snacks, and chef-driven meals. SPRING 2019 35

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